Socio-ecological Union
Projects and campaigns

An Open Letter
to the President and Parliament of the Republic of Belarus,
the citizenry of Belarus and the world community
from the longest-term inhabitants of the
Belîvezhskaya Pushcha National Park

We, the undersigned hereditary inhabitants of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, send this letter in the hope of receiving the understanding and support of the Head of State, Parliament, the citizenry of Belarus and the world community.

Our land, a natural monument belonging to all humanity and a world legacy, is threatened as never before.

The usurious depletion of our forest continues: an endless flow of valuable timber crosses the borders of the National Park. The face of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park has been altered over the last few years. We find only one reason behind this: greed and avariciousness.

With pain in our hearts we witness the "dumping" of our national and world legacy, the continuous machinations and the heartless trade in environmental resources that are transforming our land into a barren and lifeless wasteland and turning us into a native population deprived of its rights.

We are in our sixties, seventies and eighties. The actions that we are witnessing in the Pushcha perplex us, and elicit in us not only indignation, but anger as well.

To seek protection forces us to be exiles in our native lands. The Belovezhskaya Pushcha is both our homeland and our home. Here lie the graves of our ancestors, our destiny and our life history. The fact that Belovezhskaya Pushcha has remained unique is testimony to the achievement of the local inhabitants in caring for their native lands.

The Belovezhskaya Pushcha management is not accountable to us for its actions, and our opinion about the treatment of our lands is not considered. We, the indigenous population, feel terrorized; the work and livelihoods of those who were raised here and have remained here to work and raise their own families are threatened. Hundreds of people - among them specialists, scientists and laborers - have been expelled from the Pushcha already. Their positions are filled by "outsiders" from other regions of the country, and from Russia and Ukraine.

We don't know what will happen tomorrow. Traditional forms of social support, such as assistance in agricultural work, have been discontinued. And now the administration would like to deprive us of hay mowing sites. The Pushcha's inhabitants are restricted from freely communicating with their relatives and friends who live outside of the National Park, as an order by the Pushcha Director bans them to enter the territory of the Park.

The authorities do not consider the consequences of forcing the local inhabitants into a corner, and humiliating and harassing our children. Such actions embitter the people and destroy our belief in equity and the future.

Through this Open Letter, we are seeking the attention of the President and Parliament of Belarus, and other organizations and institutes who would like to take action. We also ask representatives of the world community to show their interest in Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park and we invite you to visit the National Park.

We would like to preserve the Belovezhskaya Pushcha and protect ourselves.

1. Mr. Vladimir Datskevich, 75 years old, scientist for 40 years
2. Mr. Grigory Dzik, 60 years old, turner for 35 years
3. Ms. Natalya D'yachenko, 59 years old, PhD in biology, senior scientist for 30 years
4. Mr. Leonid Kozluk, 70 years old, driver for 35 years
5. Ms. Nina Kolyada, 59 years old, head of the planning and economics department for 30 years
6. Ms. Evdokiya Kupriyanuk, 59 years old, accountant for 30 years
7. Mr. Vasily Nagrodsky, 82 years old, lumber-man for 30 years
8. Mr. Vadim Synyak, 77 years old, senior engineer for 35 years
9. Ms. Elena Synyak, 72 years old, laboratory assistant, meteorologist for 30 years
10. Mr. Anatoly Smoktunovich, 80 years old, forester for 45 years
11. Ms. Tereza Sukhotskaya, 75 years old, cashier for 30 years
12. Mr. Nikolay Scherbakov, 67 years old, wildlife manager for 30 years

April 2003

Save Belovezhskaya Pushcha - unique European fores